‘I silently vowed that if I ever reached 200 pounds, I would kill myself.’
In the spring of 2007, I reached the moment of truth regarding my weight. In a visit to my doctor, I was horrified to find I was well over 200 pounds. My diet of choice, which had worked adequately for a few years, was just not doing the job anymore. To be honest, maybe that charge belonged to me. I’ve never been a fan of exercise, mostly subscribing to the kind of greeting card humor that rang true: “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.”
I was overweight as a child. Weight has been a lifelong struggle. I remember being 8 years old and my mother nearly weeping upon seeing stretch marks on my legs. For the life of me, I don’t know how they happened. When I look back at photographs of my 8 year-old self, I look normal. But the internal dialogue was cast and my mom’s consistent criticism reinforced it: “You are so fat.”
All the photographs of my high school years show a fairly well-proportioned girl who didn’t know how to dress herself (this was before being a fashionista became a teenage obsession). I couldn’t see myself as anything but huge and, as I grew older and bigger, I silently vowed that if I ever reached 200 pounds, I would kill myself. I realize that for many people who are seriously overweight, 200 pounds was a long time ago, but does it matter? I felt like a cow. My size 16 clothes were contemptable and shopping was humiliating.
I lost some weight in the 80s and did some running, which I found enjoyable. It lasted for a while, and then the body I hated so much fought again for control and won. I resented my body. It seemed to have its own personality — demanding, hysterical, devious, childish. I couldn’t rein it in.
So there I was at the doctor’s office, asking what in the world was I going to do if the diet that at least held the fat dragon at bay had stopped working altogether.
“Just try something else, something very different.”
A Weight Watchers group was starting at work. I was desperate for anything that might work. I truly feared I might commit suicide. I lost 20 pounds in the 10-week program. I was back under 200 (barely), but now I had a little incentive, so I kept going. With each 20-pound increment I’d say, “Okay, that wasn’t so hard,” and I’d stick with it. I did this until I had dropped 85 pounds. I had not been that final weight since the age of 12.
It took me two years to get there, and since then I’ve gained a little back. I’d never been thin and wanted to know what it felt like to wear a size 2 for a while, but that’s really too small for me. I’ve put that behind me. What I now know is, maintenance is way, WAY harder than losing. I mean that. Since reaching a weight I’d longed for all my life in 2009, I’ve been on a roller coaster. Gaining 10 pounds has sent me into serious anxiety.
I had begun exercising in the second year of my journey and was now a hardcore, at-least-one-hour-a-day runner and/or Nordic Track ski machine enthusiast. “Find something you love to do,” the experts tell us. My problem was there was nothing I “loved” to do. Exercise was a detestable but necessary function. I still felt big. I couldn’t believe anyone would refer to me as “tiny.” The old me fights relentlessly to return, and I wrestle her off.
Then . . . Trikke. I feel like I’m skating. No, wait — I feel like I’m stretching. Well, it’s sort of like . . . dancing. All summer long, as I’ve learned the moves and figured out my stride, I’ve discovered I love this exercise. I LOVE IT. I feel lean and healthy and strong when I’m on my Trikke.
What’s simply wonderful is my weight is stable. I don’t feel like I have to work so hard. I mix up the exercise routine now — using the Nordic Track more now that winter’s heading in — and I’m getting so much more out of the Trikke than I ever thought possible. It’s exercise, it’s therapy, it’s a message to myself that I can stand up to something that plagued me all my life and triumph over it.
Now whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I DO!